Business integration with ObjectStar
If you go back far enough in time, the market for applications development tools used to be vibrant. There were all sorts of new technologies that were going to take IT into the new world of distributed, service-oriented computing. Unfortunately, they didn't all make it and the survivors have been the ones that had the financial support required to push the market where it wanted to go. One product that hasn't had financial support -- but neither has it gone away -- is ObjectStar.
As its name suggests, ObjectStar makes heavy use of object technology to provide a foundation that supports distributed applications. It was introduced, initially, by Amdahl and, as the drawn-out saga of takeover and integration with Fujitsu has gone on, it has continued to sit within the business pulling in steady revenues but not drawing attention to itself in any way. As a result of corporate focus being elsewhere, ObjectStar is still in the market when other competitive tools haven't made it. Now, there is a real opportunity for it to shine at a time when interest in development tools is increasing once again.
Now, the Fujitsu organisation has made a decision to revitalise interest because it has realised that it is sitting on a $400 million investment that has continued to remain profitable and contributes significant amounts to the bottom line. This has been achieved with little effort and so it is now looking to see how much it can grow the business.
The timing could not have been better. ObjectStar is designed in a way that makes it a powerful tool for integrating business applications into a single environment. It has the ability to work with all sorts of interfaces -- including some of the more obscure ones -- and it creates an open standards based infrastructure. Clearly, Web services is one of the options that it can support but it uses other mechanisms where they may be more appropriate.
What is attractive about ObjectStar, however, is that it is data driven. As an applications development environment, it allows just about anything to be parameterised. This means that there is a requirement for a run-time component but it also means that changes to the applications environment can be made within metadata and not code. Many business changes -- such as a new product configuration or a change in the processing -- can be implemented at the business level and those expensive C++ coders can carry on with something else.
The Fujitsu business is expected to make a new push with ObjectStar over the next few months. It will be priced to compete and it will be targeted to fit into project definitions rather than as a strategic development platform. However, it might be safe to assume that a good proportion of those tactical purchases will become strategic choices. ObjectStar is that kind of tool.
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